In Cision’s 2019 Global State of the Media Report, results from a survey of nearly 2,000 journalists from around the world show only half value accuracy over revenue, exclusivity or being the first to publish.
It’s hard to blame them. As views, clicks and other analytics tied to advertising revenues become easier to track, newsroom decisions are based increasingly on data. Journalists’ success – and career longevity – hinges largely on knowing who their audience is and what will engage them.
The same is true for public relations practitioners striving to get their attention. While it can be easy to focus on journalists as the receivers of our communication, we cannot forget that they are a conduit for reaching our target audience. By remaining focused on who we want to reach (the first step to creating a successful PR strategy), we may more effectively tailor pitches and supporting materials that resonate and increase our chance of securing media coverage.
This is one of several major takeaways from Cision’s report, which also details growing concerns about the role of social media, diminishing resources and shifts in perceptions of trust.
Social media is increasingly complex, making it both harder and easier to connect.
Evidenced by data privacy and accuracy issues Facebook has endured in the last year, the world of social media is more complicated than ever. Data issues combined with opaque algorithms and the ease with which information can be spread have led publishers to rely less on social media as a distribution platform for their news. However, as Cision reports, social media remains a critical tool for journalists to connect with resources and real-time news.
Almost 40 percent of survey respondents agree updated social media algorithms – the technology driving news feeds on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others – will be “the most important technology to impact their work in 2019.”
Algorithm updates also impact the work of marketers and public relations professionals. Not only are we challenged to develop and distribute content that drives engagement in the form of views, clicks and shares, but we must also ensure our content makes it into the news feeds of target consumers. This struggle is shifting the way we look at paid social media advertising from a nice-to-have accessory to a must-have component of our communications strategies.
To work well with the media, anticipate and be patient.
Unsurprisingly, lack of staffing and resources ranks highly among the biggest challenges for journalists in the last 12 months. One-third of large newspapers and one-fourth of digital outlets have suffered layoffs since 2017, says the report. Required to do more with less, journalists are writing and publishing about one article daily and rarely have time to plan their stories more than one day in advance.
Increase the likelihood of securing coverage by ensuring all resources for a story are available right away, especially if the story is time sensitive. This could mean placing a hold on the calendar of your spokesperson and communicating expectations in advance should media have an interest in your news. For major announcements, our team also anticipates follow-up questions and draft responses in advance of any media outreach.
Consumers are (slowly) regaining trust.
Sixty-three percent of journalists surveyed feel the public lost trust in media over the last year – an eight-point decrease from 2018 and 28-point decrease from 2017. Despite improvements, public distrust remains one of the biggest threats to journalism today.
Media relations will always be an essential part of the public relations toolkit, but we should also be looking to paid, shared and owned communications channels to reinforce the credibility of our message among a distrusting public. At Curley & Pynn, for example, we are increasingly leveraging owned and shared channels such as online blogs and magazines, email marketing and social media, to more effectively reach the target audiences of our clients in an integrated approach.
PR pros are valuable, but communication must be relevant.
Almost 30 percent of journalists surveyed said their relationship with public relations professionals had become more valuable. Short on time and resources to find story leads and generate content, most journalists still rely on our news announcements and releases, invitations to events and original research for story leads.
Though we are continuing to provide value, relevance remains a concern. Fewer than 25 percent of the pitches journalists receive are relevant, according to the report. Write for the end consumer, include a clear news hook, avoid jargon and – above all – conduct research to ensure your target audience aligns with the audience of the journalist or media outlet you are pitching. These are minimum requirements, journalists shared, to getting your email opened.
It can be hard for business leaders to evaluate media opportunities objectively when they are deeply engrained and passionate about their work. Public relations professionals should be involved from the time an idea or initiative is formed to ensure related communications are relevant to media and the end consumer. Working with a public relations agency can help provide the media relations expertise and external perspective needed to see the forest from the trees.
For more insights about media relations in 2019, download Cision’s Global State of the Media Report here: https://www.cision.com/content/dam/cision/Resources/white-papers/2019_Q2_SOTM_report.pdf.